Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rothko Sunday (Paracelsus 3)

           Of such were the secrets known by Paracelsus, and it was in the application of these hidden natural forces to purposes of medicine that he made at once so many admirers and enemies.  For the rest, he was by no means a simple personality like Postel;  he was naturally aggressive and of the mountebank type; so did he affirm that his familiar spirit was hidden in the pommel of his great sword, and never left his side.  His life was an unceasing struggle; he travelled, debated, wrote, taught.  He was more eager about physical results than moral conquests, and while first among practical magicians he was last among adepts of wisdom.  

           His philosophy was one of sagacity and, on his own part, he termed it philosophia sagax. [1]   He divined more than anyone without knowing anything completely.  There is nothing to equal his intuitions, unless it  be the rashness of his commentaries.   He was a man of intrepid experiences, intoxicated with his own opinions, his own talk, intoxicated otherwise on occasion, if we may believe some of his biographers.  The works which he has left are precious for science, but they must be read with caution.  He may be called the divine Paracelsus, understood in the sense of diviner; he is an oracle, but not a true master.  He is great above all as a physician, for he had found the Universal Medicine.   

          This notwithstanding, he could not prolong his own life, and he died, while still young, worn out by work and by excesses. [2]   He left behind him a name shining with fantastic and ambiguous glory, due to discoveries by which his contemporaries failed to profit.  He had not uttered his last word, and is one of those mysterious beings of whom it may be said, as of Enoch and St. John:  He is not dead, and he will come again upon earth before his last day.

[1]  This is really the title of a particular treatise, but it is exceedingly long and may be said to be de omnibus rebus, it may be not taken unjustly to represent his philosophy at large.

[2]  The latest and most successful apologist of Paracelsus says that the charge of intemperance was invented by his enemies.  See the Life of Paracelsus, by Miss Anna M. Stoddart, 1911.

Eliphas Levi, The History of Magic (Including A Clear And Precise Exposition Of Its Procedure, Its Rites And Its Mysteries), 1860 (translated by A.E. Waite, 1913). Float.  Serene.  Occupy.

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